WAYNE – After finishing the 2019 season with a top 15 national ranking, the Wayne State College volleyball team was looking to improve on that mark but they didn’t get the chance this season due to COVID-19.
Wayne State College finished the 2019 season at 24-7 overall and fifth place in the NSIC with a 14-6 league mark. The Wildcats were ranked 13th in the final regular season AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll.
2020 marks the 16th season for Scott Kneifl leading the Wayne State College volleyball team. He has led the Wildcat program to 11 NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, 14 20-win seasons, one NCAA Central Region Title, one national semifinal appearance and one NSIC Tournament title (2007).
Coach Kneifl said the team has been practicing a lot and getting stronger in the weight room.
“Continue to work on a lot of the little things that are going to make us better down the road,” said Kneifl. “Unfortunately, right now, we’re in a holding pattern. We don’t know if we’ll get to play any real matches this spring or not. But regardless, we’re going to continue to try to get batter and get ready for next fall.”
During his 15 years at Wayne State College, Kneifl has accumulated career records of 368-131 overall (.737) and 210-80 (.724) in the Northern Sun Conference. He is the 20th winningest active coach in NCAA Division II with a .737 winning percentage.
The volleyball team also held a Black/Gold scrimmage on Tuesday, October 13 at Rice Auditorium for fans free of charge.
Coach Kneifl added it was a solid crowd.
“I thought our players on both sides of the net put on a really good performance, competed and really got after it,” Kneifl added. “Just playing in front of people, it just makes it more fun and that’s what our athletics are all about.”
With Wednesday being the first day for volleyball teams to release their incoming class of 2021 recruits, four individuals signed their national letter of intent to continue their education and compete on the Wayne State College volleyball team.
They include Kallie Kroeker a middle hitter from Roca, NE (Norris HS); Taylor Whilshire a defensive specialist/libero from Sioux City, IA (Dakota Valley HS); Gabby Gergen setter from Janesville, IA (Janesville HS) and Jazlin Dehaan an outside hitter from Orange City, IA (MOC-Floyd Valley HS).
Coach Kneifl mentioned recruiting is never over as it seems to happen earlier and earlier.
“That’s a rule in coaching, you just never know and crazy things can happen,” Kneifl mentioned. “Right now, we’ve moved onto 2022 and actually we had our first 2023 player on campus this morning (Thursday).”
Coach Kneifl said things could change, but the senior class will be moving on.
“We have three players moving onto med school which we’re really excited about; we’re excited for them,” said Kneifl. “We also have a student that’s going onto graduate school to be an Athletic Trainer and then another student that will be studying overseas for her last semester.”
Over the summer, the Wayne State College volleyball team also earned their 18th straight United State Marine Corps (USMC) and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award. The association office in Lexington, Kentucky made the announcement this past July for the 2019-20 season.
The Wildcats continue the longest active streak in NCAA Division II for receiving the honor, 18 consecutive years. Wayne State recorded an impressive team cumulative grade point average of 3.80. WSC is also tied for second amongst all NCAA Division II schools for the most AVCA Team Academic Awards.
The award, initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors volleyball teams that maintain a year-long grade point average of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale.
Along with its 3.80 team grade point average, the Wildcat volleyball team had four seniors earn the NSIC/Myles Brand All-Academic With Distinction Award and 11 players named to the NSIC Fall All-Academic Team.